COLOGNE, Germany - Actress and supermodel Heidi Klum got a ton of unwanted free publicity ahead of the seventh season start of her top-rated reality show Germany's Next Top Model Thursday night. The local press have been dedicating reams of newsprint and endless online pages to speculation on the causes, and effects, of Klum's much-publicized break-up with Brit singer Seal.
But the extra attention did little to help the show, in which aspiring German models compete to win a modeling contract.
Top Model bowed to a mixed reception on primetime on German commercial channel Pro7. The overall audience topped 3 percent for a 9.7 percent total share, up slightly on last year's sixth season debut, but younger viewers tuned out. The market share in the 14-49 demographic - the sweet spot for German advertisers - slipped to 17.5 percent, the lowest level since Germany's Next Top Model debuted back in 2006 and a full point below the show's 2011 bow.
The drop is unlikely to threaten Pro7's commitment to Top Model. The show remains a money-spinner and has a lock on fashion and cosmetics advertising, both in traditional spots and in frequent in-show product placement. But for several seasons, Klum and Top Model have been bullet-proof and are a key pillar in Pro7's lineup. Any sign of weakness, however small, could lead to a scramble to find an alternative to the Heidi Klum show, should Top Model continue to slide.
In addition to Germany's Next Top Model, Klum is the co-creator, executive producer and host of Emmy-winning Project Runway, which airs on Lifetime in the U.S..